Home is wherever we happen to set up the crib at Christmas.

For the last 18 years this has mostly been Shillong, but before that, it was one tea estate after another all across Assam. The ritual, though, remained the same. We’d take them out carefully, those ceramic figurines, and place them on the mantelpiece.

They might have occupied pride of place, but our crib—the model of the Nativity of Christ—could hardly be considered grand. The figurines less than an inch, but the set complete: Mother Mary kneeling, brown-robed Joseph, a lowly shepherd holding hat to heart in reverence, three wise men and their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, an angel in white, a few barn animals and, of course, baby Jesus looking remarkably content on his bed of hay.


Janice Pariat

Janice Pariat is the author of Boats on Land: A Collection of Short Stories, Seahorse: A Novel and The Nine Chambered-Heart. She was awarded the Young Writer Award from the Sahitya Akademi and the Crossword Book Award for Fiction in 2013. Her work has featured in a wide selection of national magazines and newspapers. She lives in New Delhi with a cat of many names.

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